On Teysa: A Love Letter to my Favorite Commander
I have many decks, this is true, but one deck stands out as my very most favorite deck: Teysa, Orzhov Scion (#1).*
When I first met Teysa, back in the days of Ravnica (when I was reading about things on mtg.com, but not actively playing), I wasn’t that impressed by her and her big ugly friend. I hadn’t yet fallen in love with the idea sacrificing my own things for fun and profit. But when EDH came on to my radar, she reentered my life (tagging along with 15 or so other legendary creatures I won in a bulk ebay auction), and I took another look at this forgotten Badass Goth
Lawyer Advisor Advokist, and realized what I had been missing.
This was one of the first 10 decks I built back in the summer of 2010, and it has probably gone through the most modifications and updates of any deck that I have. Along with Animar, it’s the only deck I actively ask “What does the next set have for the Deck?”. It is also one of the only three decks (of 110) that I have in Sleeves (Because they are Teysa Sleeves).
The first versions of the deck were a mess of cards, there was a lot of reanimation, and discard effects, but also a bunch of just random cards (Auspicious Ancestor!). Eventually I started tuning it towards Token Making and Reanimation, but it was still kind of sloppy (and it still is!). Certain cards that are just plain bad (Nip Gwyillion — cheapest creature that is both black and white. Blood Pet, because she had Thrulls and it sacs itself) but they stay in the deck because I like them.
The current version of the deck, if given enough time, can get pretty ridiculous. It has a number of infinite loop combos, but they’re not easy to set up or protect (with a God Draw and no Interference, it fits the “Can Win on Turn 3” requirement)**. It can also get by with a massive Token swarm (also having exiled most enemy blockers). It can sometimes gain tons of life. It doesn’t do any of them super efficiently though.
As this is an early deck, it has a pretty small land-base (~34 Lands). I should probably increase it. My hope is to some day have enough Russian Alara #238 Swamps for it. I haven’t picked the plains yet, but I have 8 Russian ones for now.
The non basics include most of the W/B duals, though I haven’t slotted in Temple of Mystery yet. I think all of the Ravnica lands are Russian (though not the foil guildgate), Godless Shrine, as well as the Caves of Koilos. Volrath’s Stronghold is helpful recursion, and the requisite Coffers/Urborg is in there for extra Mana. Strongly considering adding: Phyrexian Tower and maybe Mistveil Plains.
Other Mana Production:
Both Altars are great Sac Outlets, Sol Ring (while not in all my decks) is requisite. Black Market can make for huge turns, and Scuttlemutt has the added bonus of making a creature both White and Black (because Painter’s Servant is still banned). I could probably use a Signet or some other Mana Rocks or accelerants, but I don’t know what to cut. Blood Pet is hiding with the creatures.
The Rune-scarred Demon is a Russian one. My only Diabolic Intent is here. I might group Academy Rector here as well. Liliana is on the block. She does tutor twice (theoretically), but she might be better as a land.
Bodies that bring Bodies back are key components to this deck. Reveillark/Karmic Guide and another white weenie can make for a board wipe with Teysa.
Graduated: Adarkar Valkyrie, Doomed Necromancer
On Probation: Reya Dawnbringer, Coffin Queen, Apprentice Necromancer
Absent: Gravecrawler (deck doesn’t do Zombies), Mikeaus (he’s in enough other decks)
The Nim Deathmantle can do recursion tricks with the Altars, and since it makes the creature black, it can produce some little White Tokens. With Archon of Justice it can eventually exile all of the things. Cauldron Haze is on the way out, and the other Russian spell (Immortal Servitude) might be too, since it’s narrow in what it brings back. Animate Dead could be any number of other things, but it’s been there since the beginning, and it’s also Sun Titan-able. The rule for pimping the deck is Russian>Foil, so the Debtors’ Knell is no longer shiny.
For Fun and Infinite Recursion (during the Upkeep only): Hell’s Caretaker and Thornbite Staff. Ashen Rider is their new best friend.
MAKIN’ CRAZY TOKENS:
Bodies that bring friends to the Party
Creatures that generate tokens are helpful in this deck.
Wearing out their Welcome: Cloudgoat Ranger is probably becoming Captain of the Watch again (1 more mana, but the deck would rather have buffed soldiers than kithkin ones). Requiem Angel doesn’t trigger on Spirits going to the ‘yard.
Getting an Invite: Captain of the Watch, Abhorrent Overlord (many black tokens!).
Life of the party: Twilight Drover (need more dice!) and Darien plus pain-lands (or Darien, plus a token, plus Blasting Station plus Soul Warden for a do-nothing loop).
Waiting in Line: Ophiomancer. Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts (I don’t get to control the token production, even if they are w/b)
Other spells that bring buddies
Waylay says: 2W: activate Teysa.
Bitterblossom: is Russian AND Rebecca Guay
Mobilization: the russian version is in a R/W Soldier deck right now, comrade.
Lingering Souls isn’t that great, but the art is pretty. Spectral Procession is Slow. Murder investigation is relatively new, and hasn’t happened yet.
Beckon Apparition makes a W/B token!
Field of Souls doesn’t trigger off token deaths, but lots of regular creatures die too.
Other Planeswalking Friends:
I never seem to do well with Elspeth, K-E. I may switch her out for the New Elspeth. She costs more to cast, but makes a full Teysa activation with her +1. Sorin is relatively new.
The Life Gainers of the Party
Since a lot of creatures are coming in to play on my side, it’s nice to gain life. Soul warden also neutralizes Bitter Blossom.
And For your Combo-Victory Needs
These plus Teysa, plus another creature = damage to infiinity and beyond.
Theirs’ is not to Question Why…
Mass Destruction or Worse: Angel of Despair, Archon of Justice, Necrotic Sliver
Fodder: Nip Gwyllion, Blood Pet
Graveyard hate: Puppeteer Clique
Possibly Irrelevant Old Man: Academy Rector (though it does grab Darkest Hour, it’s not much for being recurred)
If I die, you die too: Grave Pact, and Butcher of Malakir, Victimize
All your not-exiled by Teysa’s are belong to It that Betrays (hooray for reanimation)
Sac Outlet or one-hit-winner: Fallen Angel (plus lots of tokens)
Boring Protection or targeted removal.
The Most Recent Additions/Swaps
Cauldron Haze: out, Abhorrent Overlord: in. CH was too situational
Grave Betrayal: out, Ashen Rider: in. I only want to steal via creatues (ItB, Puppeteer Clique). The Rider fits more along the lines of the clear-a-path for tokens strategy, and is way better with Hell’s Caretaker.
My relationship with Teysa is a complicated one. There are things that I want to stay the same forever, and there are exciting changes I hope to make.
*I also have a Spirit Tribal/Discard Theme Teysa, Orzhov Scion Deck (because the Foil German one needed a deck to rule) and a Creatureless Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts (Because she is also pretty bad-ass, even if she doesn’t quite fit in this deck).
** Turn 1: Plains, (W)Sol Ring
Turn 2: Swamp, (b/w)(2)Blasting Station, (b/w) any 1 CMC creature
Turn 3: Swamp, (1bw)Teysa, (b)Darkest Hour: sac the now-black creature to the station, Teysa makes a now-black spirit and station untaps. Repeat.